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Full text of "Journal of Philip Fithian, Kept at Nomini Hall, Virginia, 1773-1774"

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290 Documents 

A few days before the above testimonial was delivered to him 
in the name of the Church and School, Andrew Melville had taken 
his leave of the Council of State. The fact is recorded in the fol- 
lowing entry : 

"Andre Melvin s'est presente icy, priant Messieurs avoir a gre le 
service qu'il a faict a la Seigneurie, estant regent a l'escole. Arreste 
qu'on luy reponde qu'on se contente de son service, luy donnant gra- 
cieux conge." (Register of the Council, April 5, 1574.) 

Melville's garden in the college precincts was inherited by a refu- 
gee of St. Bartholomew, who had become Professor of Arts in the 
Academy, and whom he had also the rare opportunity of hearing 
in the only courses of public lectures which the celebrated scholar 
ever gave in his long life. This was Joseph Scaliger. Under the 
date of March 16, 1574, the Secretary of the Council entered : 

"Joseph Scaliger. Estant propose qu'il desireroit avoir ung jardin, 
arrest^ qu'on luy bailie celuy de M r Melvin, qui s'en va en France, com- 
ment on dit." 

According to James Melville, his uncle left for Lyons, Orleans 
and Paris. He sailed from Dieppe for England. From London 
he took his journey by Berwick to Edinburgh, where he arrived in 
the beginning of July. 



2. Journal of Philip Fithian, kept at Nomini Hall, Virginia, 

The following pages contain selections from the journal kept by 
Philip Vickers Fithian, while tutor in the family of Councillor Car- 
ter of Nomini Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia. Philip Fithian 
was born in Greenwich, New Jersey, December 29, 1 747. After 
three years of schooling under the Rev. Enoch Green of Deerfield, 
N. J., he entered Princeton College, November 30, 1770, being ad- 
mitted to the Junior Class, and graduating in September, 1772, in 
the same class with Aaron Burr. The year following was spent in 
the study of theology, under his old friend and teacher Dr. Green 
of Deerfield, his ambition being admittance to the Presbyterian 
clergy. It was in the fall of 1773 that he received a letter from Dr. 
Witherspoon, offering him a situation in the family of Robert Carter 
of Virginia, stating that he had recommended him to his old friend 
as a tutor, and advising him to accept, if only temporarily. Though 
warned against the danger he incurred, both moral and physical, by 
venturing into such a sea of temptation, as many prejudiced people 
then regarded the South, he decided to accept ; and thus it was he 
came to Nomini Hall. It is pleasing to note how agreeable was 



Journal of Philip Fit Man 291 

the surprise when instead of the anticipated revelry and vice, he 
found only culture and refinement; an elegance of living and a 
courtliness of manner, perhaps equalled by few in the colonies. 
Robert Carter, called the Councillor, was a grandson of the famous 
" King " Carter of Corotoman, noted for his immense wealth and 
boundless possessions. The Councillor was a man of great culture 
and refinement, with a taste for retirement and study. He loved 
rather a quiet life with his family upon his estate at Nomini Hall, 
than the gayeties of the governor's court at Williamsburg. He was 
a member of the King's council which sat at Williamsburg; it was 
probably this position, which he held at the time of the war, that 
led him to discountenance all dissensions with that King, whom he 
in a sense represented, and caused him to take no part in the strug- 
gle for independence. Toward the close of his life he became in 
reality a recluse, seldom leaving his place, or visiting his neighbors, 
so that little is known of his last years, save that they were devoted 
to religion, the form of which he changed many times. 

Of Nomini Hall and its surrounding buildings nothing now re- 
mains, it having been destroyed by fire in 1850. The beautiful 
avenue of grand old poplars is still the pride of the place and sur- 
vives all the many changes of time. The ruins of the mill and dam- 
are still to be seen, though the upper channel is filled with mud and 
is long since closed to navigation. 

Philip Fithian, after leaving Councillor Carter's, entered the min- 
istry, 1 and soon after the outbreak of hostilities enlisted as chaplain 
in a New Jersey regiment, and served during the campaign on Long 
Island and New York. He was taken sick and died at Fort Wash- 
ington, of a camp epidemic, just before the capture of that place by 
the British. 2 In conclusion the editor of these pages wishes to say 
that it is through the courtesy and kindness of the present owner of 
these manuscripts, a member of the Fithian family, that he has 
been enabled to place them before the public, for which he is most 
sincerely thankful. 3 

John Rogers Williams. 



1 He is said to have been a member of the "New Jersey Tea Party," at Greenwich,. 
December 22, 1774. See New Jersey Archives, X. 532. 

2 Heitman, Historical Register, s. v., says that he was " killed on the retreat from 
New York, September 15, 1776," which was the day of the action at Kip's Bay. 

3 The journal now preserved is not, in this portion, the original manuscript, but a 
copy made by the writer's nephew, Rev. Enoch Fithian, apparently about 1820. The 
footnotes appended to the printed text are partly by Mr. J. R. Williams, of Princeton 
University, partly by the editor. The dates have been expanded in form, and have been 
given a different place from that which they occupy in the manuscript ; otherwise the lat- 
ter has been literally followed. — Er>. 



292 Documents 

1 773, Saturday, October 23. 1 Expence at Baltimore 15/3. Rode 
and forded Petapskoto a small Tavern 15 Miles. Expence 1/11. Rode 
thence to Blandensburg [Bladensburg] 23 Miles. Whole Distance 38 
Miles. Whole Expence 17/2. 

Sunday, October 24. Expence at Blandensburg 5/7. Rode thence 
to George-town 8 Miles. Expence 1/6. Ferriage /6. From thence 
we rode by Alexandria, 9 Miles. Thence to Colchester 18 Miles. 
Dined. Expence 3/9. Ferriage /6. Rode thence to Dumfries 10 
Miles. Whole distance 45 Miles. Whole Expence 11/4. 

Monday, October 25. Expence at Dumfries 4/5. Rode thence to 
Aquia 10 Miles. Expence 2/4. Rode thence to Stafford-Court-House 
12 Miles. Whole Distance 22 Miles. Whole Expence 6/6. 

Tuesday, October 26. Expence at Stafford 5/. Stopped at Colonel 
Thomas Lee's/ only a few Rods from Stafford Tavern. Continued there 
all day, and the following Night. Expence to Day 5/. 

Wednesday, October 27. Expence to boy 1/. Rode from Mr. Lees 
to a small poor Ordinary 13 Miles. Expence /8 for Oats. Rode thence, 
without feeding to Captain Cheltons, on the Potowmack 3 2 Miles. Whole 
Distance 45 Miles. Whole Expence 1/8. 

Thursday, October 28, Rode after Breakfast to the Honorable Rob : 
Carters the End of my Journey ; 1 2 Miles, by two o-Clock in the After- 
noon. Both Myself, and my Horse seem neither Tired nor Dispirited. 
Occasional Expenceson the Road. In Baltimore for some Buff-Ball 1/6. 
In Blandensburg for having straps put to my Saddle-Bags 3/. In Col- 
chester for Shaving and Dressing 1/3. The wholes/9. So that my 
whole Distance appears to be 260 Miles, performed in seven days. And 
my whole expence appears to be £ S D 

3.. 6.. 6. 

Friday, October 2p. Settled myself in the Room appointed me, and 
adjusted my affairs after my Ride. 

Saturday, October 30. Rode with Mr. Carters eldest Son to a Store, 
about seven Miles. Bought half a Box of Wafers for 1/. And a quire 
of paper for 1/6. Dined at three. And rode into Richmond Parish 15 
Miles to Mr. Fantleroys. Was introduced to Mr. Fantleroy, two of his 
Sons, Mr. Christian a dancing-Master. 

Sunday, October 31. Rode to Church six Miles. Heard Mr. Gib- 
bern 3 preach on Felixes trembling at Pauls Sermon. 

Monday, November 1. We began School. The School consists of 
eight. Two of Mr. Carters Sons, One Nephew, And five Daughters. 
The eldest Son is reading Salust: Gramatical Exercises, and latin 

1 Fithian had left his home, in southern New Jersey, on October 19. 

8 This Col. Thomas (Ludwell) Lee was the second surviving son of President 
Thomas Lee and was a brother of Philip Ludwell and Richard Henry. He was promi- 
nent in the political movements of the times. 

3 Rev. Isaac William Giberne, rector of Lunenburg Parish from 1762, for perhaps 
twenty years. He was an Englishman (said to have been a nephew of the Bishop of 
Durham), a man of much wit and talent, and noted for his convivial habits. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 293 

Grammer. The second Son is reading english Grammar Reading Eng- 
lish : Writing, and Cyphering in Subtraction. The Nephew is Reading 
and Writing as above ; and Cyphering in Reduction. The eldest 
daughter is Reading the Spectator ; Writing ; and beginning to Cypher. 
The second is reading next out of the Spelling-Book, and beginning to 
write. The next is reading in the Spelling-Book. The fourth is Spell- 
ing in the beginning of the Spelling-Book. And the last is beginning 
her letters. 

Sunday, November 7. Rode to Ucomico Church, 1 8 Miles. Heard 
Parson Smith. He shewed to us the uncertainty of Riches, and their Insuf- 
ficiency to make us happy. Dined at Captain Walkers ; With Parson 
Smith ; his Wife ; her Sister, a young lady ; &c. Returned in the 
Evening. 

Friday, November 12. Ben begun his Greek Grammer. Three in 
the afternoon Mr. Carter returned from Williamsburg. He seems to be 
agreeable, discreet, and sensible. He informed me more particularly 
concerning his desire as to the Instruction of his Children. 

Saturday, November 20. Rode to Mr. Fishers dined with Mr. Cun- 
ningham at 3 o-Clock. Rode in the evening to Mr. Lancelot Lees, 2 a 
young Gentleman, who has lately come from England ; sup'd on Oysters. 
Rode home about nine o-Clock he along. 

Thursday, November 25. Rode this morning to Richmond Court- 
house, where two Horses run for a purse of 500 Pounds : besides small 
Betts almost enumerable. One of the Horses belonged to Colonel John 
Tayloe, 3 and is called Yorick. The other to Dr. Flood, and is called 
Gift. The Assembly was remarkably numerous ; beyond my expectation 
and exceeding polite in general. The Horses started precisely at five 
minutes after three ; the Course was one Mile in Circumference, they per- 
formed the first Round in two minutes, third in two minutes and a half. 
Yorick came out the fifth time round about 40 Rod before Gift they were 
both, when the Riders dismounted very lame ; they run five Miles, and 
Carried 180 lb. Rode home in the Evening. Expence to the Boy JT}i. 

Saturday, November 27. Robin and Nancy yet at Dancing-School. 
Mr. Harry Fantleroy called after dinner to see us. In the Evening Ben 
and I rode with him to his fathers ; I was introduced to one Mr. Walker 
a Scotch Gentleman, lately a School-master but has quit, and is going in 
the Spring for the Gown to England. 

Sunday, November 28. Rode to Church — the Parson was absent ; it 

1 This interesting old church still stands, having survived the changes and vicissitudes 
of two centuries It is one of the oldest homes of the Church of England in Virginia, 
having been built in 1706 ; it is now in good repair and is still regularly used as a place 
of worship by those of the Episcopal faith. It is said that the original silver communion 
service was given by Queen Anne. For a full account of Yeocomico Church see Bishop 
Meade's Old Churches of Virginia, II. 148-157. The minister of Cople Parish at this 
time was Rev. Thomas Smith. 

2 Son of George Lee of Mt. Pleasant in Westmoreland County. See the latter' s will 
in Lee of Virginia, 141-144. 

3 Of Mt. Airy in Richmond County, a member of the Council. 



294 Documents 

is indeed a little cold ! The Clerk read prayers for us. We rode home. 
Found at Home two young Ladies, Miss Corbin and Miss Turburville and 
Mr. George Lee, 1 brother to the Gentleman here last Sunday, and has 
lately returned from England. I was introduced by Mr. Carter to the 
two latter. 

Sunday, December 12. Rode to Nominy-Church, parson Smith 
preached 15 minutes. Advertisement at the Church door dated Sunday 
Decemf 12th. Pork to be sold to-morrow at 20/. per Hundred, dined 
with us to day Captain Walker, Colonel Rich* Lee, 2 and Mr. Lancelot 
Lee. Sat after dinner till Sunset, drank three Bottles of Medaira, 
two Bowls of Toddy ! 

Monday, December ij. Mr. Carter is preparing for a Voyage in his 
Schooner, the Hariot, to the Eastern Shore in Maryland, for Oysters : 
there are of the party, Mr. Carter, Captain Walker Colonel Rich*. Lee 
and Mr. Lancelot Lee. With Sailors to work the vessel. I observe it is 
a general custom on Sundays here, with Gentlemen to invite one another 
home to dine, after Church ; and to consult about, determine their com- 
mon business, either before or after Service. It is not the custom for 
Gentlemen to go into Church til Service is beginning, when they enter 
in a Body, in the same manner as they come out ; I have known the 
Clerk to come out and call them in to prayers. They stay also after the 
Service is over, usually as long, sometimes longer, than the Parson was 
preaching. Almost every Lady wears a red Cloak ; and when they ride 
out they tye a red handkerchief over their Head and face, so that when I 
first came into Virginia, I was distressed whenever I saw a Lady, for I 
thought she had the Tooth-Ach ! The People are extremely hospitable, 
and very polite both of which are most certainly universal Characteristics 
of the Gentlemen in Virginia, some swear bitterly, but the practise seems 
to be generally disapproved. I have heard that this Country is notorious 
for Gaming, however this be, I have not seen a Pack of Cards, nor a Die, 
since I left home, nor gaming nor Betting of any kind except at the 
Richmond-Race. Almost every Gentleman of Condition, keeps a Chariot 
and Four ; many drive with six Horses. I observe that all the Merchants 
and shopkeepers in the Sphere of my acquaintance and I am told it is the 
Case through the Province, are young Scotch-Men ; several of whom I 
know, as Cunningham, Jennings, Hamilton, Blain ; and it has been the 
custom heretofore to have all their Tutors, and Schoolmasters from Scot- 
land, tho' they begin to be willing to employ their own Countrymen. 
Evening Ben Carter 3 and myself had a long dispute on the practice of 
fighting. He thinks it best for two persons who have any dispute to go 
out in good-humour and fight manfully, and says they will be sooner and 
longer friends than to brood and harbour malice. Mr. Carter is practising 
this evening on the Guittar He begins with the Trumpet Minuet. He 

1 George Fairfax Lee, of Mt. Pleasant. A letter of his, written from Christ's Col- 
lege, Cambridge, in November, 1772, is in Lee of Virginia, p. 302. 

2 Richard Henry Lee, the famous orator and statesman. 

3 The eldest son of Councillor Carter. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 295 

has a good Ear for Music : a vastly delicate Taste : and keeps good In- 
struments, he has here at Home a Harpsichord, Forte-Piano, Harmonica, 
Guittar, Violin, and German Flutes, and at Williamsburg, has a good 
Organ, he himself also is indefatigable in the Practice. 

Tuesday, December 14. Busy in School. The Weather vastly fine ! 
There has been no Rain of consequence, nor any stormy or disagreeable 
Weather, since about the 10th of last Month ! From the Window, by 
which I write, I have a broad, a diversified, and an exceedingly beautiful 
Prospect of the high craggy Banks of the River Nominy ! Some of those 
huge Hills are covered thick with Cedar, and Pine Shrubs ; a vast quan- 
tity of which seems to be in almost every part of this Province. Others 
are naked, and when the Sun Shines look beautiful ! At the Distance of 
about 5 Miles is the River Potowmack over which I can see the smoky 
Woods of Maryland; at this window I often stand, and cast my Eyes 
homeward with peculiar pleasure ! Between my window and the potow- 
mack, is Nominy Church, it stands close on the Bank of the River Nominy, 
in a pleasant agreeable place. Mr. Carters family go down often, so 
many as can with convenience in a Boat rowed by four Men, and gener- 
ally arrive as soon as those who ride. 

The mouth of Nominy River where it falls into Potowmack is about 
25 miles above the mouth of Potowmack or where it falls into the 
Chessopeak-Bay. And about 12 Miles below the mouth of Nominy 
the River Ucomico puts up into the country, near which River, and 
about three miles from the mouth stands the lower parish Church of 
Westmorland-County call'd Ucomico Church. The River Potowmack 
opposite to us the People say is 10 miles over, but I think it is not more 
than 8. Afternoon Captain Grigg, who arrived last Sunday morning 
into the River Ucomico from London visited Mr. Carter. Evening 
reading Picteete. 1 

Wednesday, December 15. Busy in School. To day Dined with 
us Mrs. Turburville, and her daughter Miss Letty Miss Jenny Corbin, 2 
and Mr. Blain. We dined at three. The manner here is different from 
our way of living in Cohansie. In the morning so soon as it is light a 
Boy knocks at my Door to make a fire ; after the Fire is kindled, I rise 
which now in the winter is commonly by Seven, or a little after. By the 
time I am drest the Children commonly enter the School-Room, which 
is under the Room I sleep in ; I hear them round one lesson, when the 
Bell rings for eight o-Clock (for Mr. Carter has a large good Bell of up- 
wards of 60 Lb. which may be heard some miles, and this is always rung 
at meal Times ; ) the Children then go out ; and at half after eight the 
Bell rings for Breakfast, we then repair to the Dining-Room ; after 
Breakfast, which is generally about half after nine, we go into School, 

1 Benedict Pictet, Theologia Christiana, 1696. 

2 Mrs. John Turberville of Hickory Hill, Westmoreland County ; her daughter Let- 
tice Corbin Turberville, at this time a child, afterward the mother of Major-General 
Roger Jones, U. S. A., and of Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones ; and her sister 
Jane Corbin. 

vol. v. — 20 



296 Documents 

and sit til twelve, when the Bell rings, and they go out for noon ; the 
dinner-Bell rings commonly about half after two, often at three, but 
never before two. After dinner is over, which in common, when we 
have no Company, is about half after three we go into School, and sit 
til the Bell rings at five, when they separate til the next morning ; I 
have to myself in the Evening, a neat Chamber, a large Fire, Books, and 
Candle and my Liberty, either to continue in the School room, in my 
own Room, or to sit over at the great House with Mr. and Mrs. Carter. 
We go into Supper commonly about half after eight or at nine and I 
usually go to Bed between ten and Eleven. Altho the family in which I 
live, is certainly under as good political Regulations, and every way as suit- 
able and agreeable as I can expect, or even could desire ; and though 
the Neighbourhood is polite, and the Country pleasant, yet I cannot help 
reflecting on my situation last winter, which was near the lovely Laura' 1 
for whom I cannot but have the truest, and the warmest Esteem ! Pos- 
sibly, If Heaven shall preserve my life, in some future time, I may again 
enjoy her good society. 

Mr. Carter heard this Evening that Captain Walker cannot go to 
Maryland, he is thus stop'd. 

Thursday, December 16. I had the pleasure of walking to day at 
twelve o-Clock with Mrs. Carter ; She shewed me her stock of Fowls 
and Mutton for the winter ; She observed, with great truth, that to live 
in the Country, and take no pleasure at all in Groves, Fields, or 
Meadows; nor in Cattle, Horses, and domestic Poultry, would be a 
manner of life too tedious to endure ; Dined at three. 

Saturday, December 18. After Breakfast, we all retired into the 
Dancing Room, and after the Scholars had their Lesson singly round 
Mr. Christian, very politely, requested me to step a Minuet ; I excused 
myself, however^ but signified my peculiar pleasure in the accuracy of 
their performance. There were several Minuets danced with great ease 
and propriety ; after which the whole company joined in country-dances, 
and it was indeed beautiful to admiration, to see such a number of young 
persons, set off by dress to the best advantage, moving easily, to the 
sound of well performed Music, and with perfect regularity, tho' appar- 
ently in the utmost Disorder. The Dance continued til two, we dined 
at half after three, soon after Dinner we repaired to the Dancing-Room 
again ; I observe in the course of the lessons, that Mr. Christian is 
punctual, and rigid in his discipline, so strict indeed that he struck two 
of the young Misses for a fault in the course of their performance, even 
in the presence of the Mother of one of them ! And he rebuked one of 
the young Fellows so highly as to tell him he must alter his manner, which 
he had observed through the Course of the Dance, to be insolent, and 
wanton, or absent himself from the School. I thought this a sharp 
reproof to a young Gentleman of seventeen, before a large number of 
Ladies ! When it grew too dark to dance, the young Gentlemen walked 

1 A reference to Miss Elizabeth Beatty of New Jersey, who married Philip Fithian 
in I77S> and to whom he always refers as the " Lovely Laura." 



Journal of Philip Fithian 297 

over to my Room, we conversed til half after six ; Nothing is now to be 
heard of in conversation, but the Balls, the Fox-hunts, the fine entertain- 
ments, and the good fellowship, which are to be exhibited at the approach- 
ing Christmas. I almost think myself happy that my Horses lameness 
will be a sufficient Excuse for my keeping at home on these Holidays. 
Mr Goodlet was barred out of his School last Monday by his Scholars, 
for Christmas Holidays, which are to continue til twelfth-day ; But 
my Scholars are of a more quiet nature, and have consented to have four 
or five Days now, and to have their full Holiday in May next, when I 
propose by the permission of Providence to go Home, where I hope to 
see the good and benevolent Laura. 

When the candles were lighted, we all repaired, for the last time, into 
the dancing-Room ; first each couple danced a Minuet ; then all joined 
as before in the country Dances, these continued till half after Seven when 
Mr. Christian retired ; and at the proposal of several, (with Mr. Carters 
approbation) we played Button, to get Pauns for Redemption ; here 
I could join with them, and indeed it was carried on with sprightliness, 
and Decency ; in the course of redeeming my Pauns I had several Kisses 
of the Ladies! Early in the Evening came colonel Philip Lee, 1 in a 
travelling Chariot from Williamsburg. Half after eight we were rung in 
to Supper ; The room looked luminous and splendid ; four very large 
candles burning on the table where we supped ; three others in different 
parts of the Room ; a gay, sociable Assembly, and four well instructed 
waiters ! So soon as we rose from supper, the Company formed into a 
semicircle round the fire, and Mr. Lee, by the voice of the Company was 
chosen Pope, and Mr. Carter, Mr. Christian, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Lee, and 
the rest of the company were appointed Friars, in the Play call' d "break 
the Popes neck. ' ' Here we had great Diversion in the respective Judg- 
ments upon offenders, but we were all dismissed by ten, and retired to 
our several Rooms. 

Thursday, December 23. This Evening, after I had dismissed the 
Children, and was sitting in the School-Room cracking Nuts, none pres- 
ent but Mr. Carters Clerk, a civil, inoffensive, agreeable young Man, who 
acts both in the character of a Clerk and Steward, when the Woman who 
makes my Bed, asked me for the key of my Room, and on seeing the 
young Man sitting with me, she told him that her Mistress had this after- 
noon given orders that their Allowance of Meat should be given out to 
them to-morrow. She left us ; I then asked the young man what their 
allowance is? He told me that excepting some favorites about the table, 
their weekly allowance is a peck of Corn, and a pound of Meat a Head ! 
And Mr. Carter is allowed by all, and from what I have already seen of 
others, I make no Doubt at all but he is, by far the most humane to his 
Slaves of any in these parts ! Good God ! are these Christians ? When 

1 Philip Ludwell Lee ( 1727-1775 ) eldest son of President Lee, was a fellow-member 
with Robert Carter in the governor's council and took an active part in the commence- 
ment of the struggle for independence. He resided at Stratford and maintained the 
generous hospitality of his father. 



298 Documents 

I am on the Subject, I will relate further, what I heard Mr. George Lees 
Overseer, one Morgan, say the other day that he himself had often done 
to Negroes, and found it useful ; He said that whipping of any kind does 
them no good, for they will laugh at your greatest Severity ; But he told 
us he had invented two things, and by several experiments had 
proved their success. For Sulleness, Obstinacy, or Idleness, says he, 
Take a Negroe, strip him, tie him fast to a post ; take then a sharp Curry- 
Comb, and curry him severely til he is well scraped ; and call a Boy with 
some dry Hay, and make the Boy rub him down for several Minutes, 
then salt him, and unlose him. He will attend to his Business (said 
the inhuman Infidel) afterwards ! But savage Cruelty does not exceed 
His next diabolical Invention. To get a Secret from a Negro, says he, 
take the following Method — Lay upon your Floor a large thick plank, 
having a peg about eighteen Inches long, of hard wood, and very Sharp, 
on the upper end, fixed fast in the plank — then strip the Negro, tie the 
Cord to a staple in the Ceiling, so as that his foot may just rest on the 
sharpened Peg, then turn him briskly round, and you would laugh (said 
our informer) at the Dexterity of the Negro, while he was relieving his 
Feet on the sharpened Peg ! I need say nothing of these seeing there is 
a righteous God, who will take vengeance on such Inventions ! 

Saturday, December 25. I was waked this morning by Guns fired all 
round the House. The morning is stormy, the wind at South East 
rains hard Nelson the Boy who makes my Fire, blacks my shoes, does 
errands &c. was early in my Room, drest only in his shirt and Breeches ! 
He made me a vast fire, blacked my Shoes, set my Room in order, and 
wished me a joyful Christmas, for which I gave him half a Bit. Soon 
after he left the Room, and before I was Drest, the Fellow who makes 
the Fire in our School Room, drest very neatly in green, but almost 
drunk, entered my chamber with three or four profound Bows, and made 
me the same salutation ; I gave him a Bit, and dismissed him as soon as 
possible. Soon after my Cloths and Linen were sent in with a message 
for a Christmas Box, as they call it ; I sent the poor Slave a Bit, and my 
thanks. I was obliged for want of small change, to put off for some days 
the Barber who shaves and dresses me. I gave Tom the Coachman, who 
Doctors my Horse, for his care two Bits, and am to give more when the 
Horse is well. I gave to Dennis the Boy who waits at Table half a Bit. 
So that the sum of my Donations to the Servants, for this Christmas 
appears to be five Bits, a Bit is a pisterene 1 bisected; or an English 
sixpence, and passes here for seven pence Halfpenny, the whole is 

At Breakfast, when Mr. Carter entered the Room, he gave us the 
compliments of the Season. He told me, very civily, that as my Horse 
was Lame, his own riding Horse is at my Service to ride when and where 
I choose. 

1 Pistareen, which then equalled about 19.4 of our cents ; half of it, 9.7 ; the Eng- 
lish sixpence, 12.2; seven-pence-halfpenny Virginia money, 10.4. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 299 

Mrs. Carter was, as always, cheerful, chatty, and agreeable ; She told 
me after Breakfast several droll, merry Occurrences that happened while 
she was in the City Williamsburg. 

This morning came from the Post-office at Hobbes-Hole, on the Rap- 
pahannock, our News-papers. Mr. Carter takes the Pennsylvania Gazette, 
•which seems vastly agreeable to me, for it is like having something from 
home. But I have yet no Answer to my Letter. We dined at four 
o-Clock. Mr. Carter kept in his Room, because he breakfasted late, and 
on Oysters. There were at Table Mrs. Carter and her five Daughters 
that are at School with me — Miss Priscilla, Nancy, Fanny, Betsy, and 
Harriot, five as beautiful delicate, well-instructed Children as I have ever 
known ! Ben is abroad ; Bob and Harry are out ; so there was no Man 
at Table but myself. I must carve — Drink the Health — and talk if I 
can ! Our Dinner was no otherwise than common, yet as elegant a 
Christmas Dinner as I ever sat Down to. . The table Discourse was Mar- 
riage ; Mrs. Carter observed that was she a Widow, she should scruple to 
marry any man alive ; She gave a reason, that She did not think it prob- 
able a man could love her grown old when the world is thronged with 
blooming, ripening Virgins; but in fact Mrs. Carter looks and would 
pass for a younger Woman than some unmarried Ladies of my acquaint- 
ance, who would willingly enough make us place them below twenty ! 
We dined at four ; when we rose from table it was growing dark. The 
wind continues at South East and is stormy and muddy. While we 
supped Mr. Carter as he often does played on the Forte-Piano. He al- 
most never sups. Last Night and to night I had large clear and very 
elegant Spermaceti Candles sent into my Room. 

1774, Tuesday, January 4. The Family is most agreeable ! Mr. Car- 
ter is sensible, judicious, much given to retirement and Study ; his Com- 
pany, and conversation are always profitable. His main Studies are Law 
and Music, the latter of which seems to be his darling Amusement. It 
seems to nourish as well as entertain his mind ! And to be sure he has a 
nice well judging Ear, and has made great advances in the Theory, and 
Practice of music. 

Mrs. Carter is prudent, always cheerful, never without Something 
pleasant, a remarkable Economist, perfectly acquainted (in my Opinion) 
with the good -management of Children, intirely free from all foolish and 
unnecessary fondness, and is also well acquainted (for She has always 
been used) with the formality and Ceremony which we find commonly in 
high Life. Ben, the eldest, is a youth of genius : of a warm impetuous 
Disposition ; desirous of acquiring Knowledge, docile, vastly inquisitive 
and curious in mercantile, and mechanical Matters, is very fond of 
Horses and takes great pleasure in exercising them. Bob, the other 
Brother, is By no means destitute of capacity, As Mr. Marshal who 
was his last Tutor has asserted, and many now suppose : He is ex- 
tremely volatile and unsettled in his temper, which makes it almost 
wholly impossible to fix him for any time to the same thing, On which 
account he has made but very little advancement in any one Branch of 



300 Documents 

Study, and this is attributed to Barrenness of Genius. He is slovenly, 
clumsy, very fond of Shooting, of Dogs, of Horses, but a very stiff un- 
toward Rider, good natur'd, pleased with the Society of persons much 
below his Family, and Estate, and tho' quick and wrathful in his tem- 
per yet he is soon moderated, and easily subdued. Harry the Nephew, 
is rather stoical, sullen, or saturnine in his make. He is obstinate, tho' 
Steady, and makes a slow uniform advance in his Learning, he is vastly 
kind to me, but in particular to my Horse, of his health or Indisposition. 

Miss Priscilla, the eldest Daughter about 16, is steady, studious, do- 
cile, quick of apprehension, and makes good progress in what She under- 
takes ; If I could with propriety continue in the Family, I should require 
no stronger Inducement than the Satisfaction I should receive by seeing 
this young Lady become perfectly acquainted with anything I propose as 
soon as I communicate it to her, but the situation of my affairs makes it 
out of my power to stay longer than a year ; She is small of her age, has a 
mild winning Presence, a sweet obliging Temper, never swears, which is 
here a distinguished virtue, dances finely, plays well on key'd Instru- 
ments, and is on the whole in the first Class of the female Sex. 

Nancy, the Second, is not without some few of those qualities which 
are by some (I think with great ill-nature, and with little or no truth) 
said to belong intirely to the fair Sex. I mean great curiosity, Eager- 
ness for superiority, Ardor in friendship, But bitterness and rage where 
there is enmity. She is not constant in her disposition, nor diligent nor 
attentive to her business. But She has her excellencies, She is cheerful, 
tender in her Temper, easily managed by perswasion, and is never with- 
out what seems to have been a common Gift of Heaven to the fair-Sex, 
the " Copia Verborum," or readiness of Expression! She is only be- 
ginning to play the Guitar, She understands the Notes well, and is a 
graceful Dancer. 

Fanny next, 1 is in her Person, according to my Judgment, the Flower 
in the Family. She has a strong resemblance of her Mama who is an 
elegant, beautiful Woman. Miss Fanny seems to have a remarkable 
Sedateness, and simplicity in her countenance, which is always rather 
chearful than melancholy ; She has nothing with which we can find Fault 
in her Person, but has something in the Features of her Face which in- 
sensibly pleases us, and always when She is in Sight draws our Attention, 
and much the more because there seems to be for every agreeable Feature 
a correspondent Action which improves and adorns it. 

Betsy next is young, quiet, and obedient. 

Harriot is bold, fearless, noisy and lawless ; always merry, almost never 
displeased ; She seems to have a Heart easily moved by the force of 
Music ; She has learned many Tunes and can strike any Note, or Succes- 
sion of Notes perfectly with the Flute or Harpsichord, and is never 
wearied with the sound of Music either vocal or Instrumental. 

These are the persons who are at present under my direction, and 
whose general character I have very imperfectly attempted to describe. 

1 Frances Carter married Major Thomas ap Thomas Jones, of the Revolutionary army. 



Journal of- Philip Fithian 301 

Tuesday, January 18. Mrs. Carter, and the young Ladies came 
Home last Night from the Ball, 1 and brought with them Mrs. Lane, they 
tell us there were upwards of Seventy at the Ball ; forty one Ladies ; that 
the company was genteel ; and that Colonel Harry Lee, 1 from Dumfries, 
and his Son Harrey who was with me at College, were also there ; Mrs. 
Carter made this an argument, and it was a strong one indeed, that to-day 
I must dress and go with her to the Ball. She added also that She Desired 
my Company in the Evening when she should come Home as it would be 
late. After considering a while I consented to go, and was dressed, we 
set away from Mr. Carters at two ; Mrs. Carter and the young Ladies in 
the Chariot, Mrs. Lane in a Chair, and myself on Horseback. As soon 
as I had handed the Ladies out, I was saluted by Parson Smith ; I was in- 
troduced into a small Room where a number of Gentlemen were playing 
Cards (the first game I have seen since I left Home) to lay off my Boots 
Riding-Coat &c. Next I was directed into the Dining-Room to see 
young Mr. Lee; 3 He introduced me to his Father. With them I con- 
versed til Dinner, which came in at half after four. The Ladies dined 
first, when some Good order was preserved ; when they rose, each nim- 
blest Fellow dined first. The Dinner was as elegant as could be well 
expected when so great an Assembly were to be kept for so long a time. 
For Drink, there was several sorts of Wine, good Lemon Punch, Toddy, 
Cyder, Porter, &c. About Seven the Ladies and Gentlemen begun to 
dance in the Bali-Room — first Minuets one Round ; Second Giggs ; third 
Reels ; And last of All Country- Dances ; tho' they struck several Marches 
occasionally. The Music was a French-Horn and two Violins. The 
Ladies were Dressed Gay, and splendid, and when dancing, their Silks 
and Brocades rustled and trailed behind them ! But all did not join in the 
Dance for there were parties in Rooms made up, some at Cards ; some 
drinking for Pleasure ; some toasting the Sons of america ; some singing 
"Liberty Songs" as they call' d them, in which six, eight, ten or more 
would put their Heads near together and roar, and for the most part as 

unharmonious as an affronted . Among the first of these Vociferators 

was a young Scotch-Man, Mr. Jack Cunningham ; he was nimis bibendo 
appotus ; noisy, droll, waggish, yet civil in his way and wholly inoffen- 
sive. I was solicited to dance by several, Captain Chelton, Colonel Lee, 
Harry Lee, and others ; But George Lee/ with great Rudeness as tho' half 

1 Given by Richard Lee of Lee Hall, Westmoreland County, commonly called Squire 
Lee, who represented that county in the General Assembly of Virginia almost continu- 
ously from 1757 to 1795. 

2 Lieut.-Col. Henry Lee of Leesylvania, near Dumfries, was a bro her of " Squire" 
Lee, the host, and a first cousin of Richard Henry Lee ; he was a member of the House 
of Burgesses and took an active part in all the exciting events of his time. Harry his son, 
who was graduated from Princeton College in 1773, became the celebrated cavalry leader 
of the Revolution, better known perhaps under the sobriquet of " Light-Horse Harry." 
His first wife was the "Divine Matilda," daughter of Philip Ludwell Lee. By his sec- 
ond wife, a Miss Carter, he had six children, of whom the best known is Gen. Robert E. 
Lee. Henry Lee was governor of Virginia, 1791-1794., and member of Congress. 

3 1, e., Henry Lee, Jr. 

4 Probably either George Fairfax Lee, son of George Lee of Mt. Pleasant, or George 
Lee, son of Col. Thomas Ludwell Lee of Bellevue. 



302 Documents 

drunk, asked me why I would come to the Ball and neither dance nor play 
Cards? I answered him shortly, (for his Impudence moved my resent- 
ment) that my Invitation to the Ball would Justify my Presence ; and 
that he was ill qualified to direct my Behaviour who made so indifferent 
a Figure himself. Parson Smiths, and Parson Gibberns Wives danced, 
but I saw neither of the Clergymen either dance or game. At Eleven 
Mrs. Carter call'd upon me to go, I listened with gladness to the sum- 
mons and with Mrs. Lane in the Chariot we rode Home, the Evening 
sharp and cold ! I handed the Ladies out, waited on them to a warm 
Fire, then ran over to my own Room, which was warm and had a good 
Fire ; oh how welcome ! Better this than to be at the Ball in some corner 
nodding, and awaked now and then with a midnight Yell ! In my 
Room by half after twelve ; and exceeding happy that I could break away 
with Reputation. 

Saturday, January 29. The Weather is as wintry here in every Re- 
spect as I have ever known it in New- Jersey. Mr. Carter has a Cart and 
three pairs of Oxen which every Day bring in four Loads of Wood, Sun- 
days excepted, and yet these very severe Days we have none to spare ; 
And indeed I do not wonder, for in the Great House, School House, 
Kitchen, &c. there are twenty Eight steady fires ! and most of these are 
very Large ! After Supper, when all had retired but Mrs. Carter, Mr. 
Carter and Myself, the Conversation being on serious Matters, Mr. 
Carter observed that he much dislikes the common method of making 
Burying Yards round Churches, and having them almost open to every 
Beast. He would have them at some small distance from the Church, 
neatly and strongly inclosed, and the Graves kept up decent, and plain, 
but would have no splendid, nor magnificent Monument, nor even stone 
to say "Hie jacet. ' ' He told us he proposes to make his own Coffin and 
use it for a chest til its proper use shall be required — That no Stone, nor 
Inscription be put over him — And that he would choose to be laid under 
a shady Tree where he might be undisturbed, and sleep in peace and ob- 
scurity. He told us, that with his own hands he planted, and is with 
great diligence raising a Catalpa-Tiee at the Head of his Father who lies 
in his Garden. 1 

Mrs. Carter beg'd that She might have a Stone, with this only for a 
Monument, " Here lies Ann Tasker Carter.' 1 '' 2 with these things for my 
consideration I left them about ten and went to my cold Room, and was 
hurried soon to Bed ; Not however without reflecting on the importance 
of our preparation for this great Change ! 

Saturday, February 12. After having dismissed the School I went 
over to Mr. Carters Study. We conversed on many things, and at length 
on the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg. He informed me 
that it is in such confusion at present, and so badly directed, that he can- 
not send his Children with propriety there for Improvement and useful 
Education. That he has known the Professors to play all Night at Cards 
in publick Houses in the City, and has often seen them drunken in the 

1 Robert Carter of Nominy Hall, son of " King " Carter, died about 1732. 

2 Mrs. Carter was the daughter of Hon. Benjamin Tasker, of Maryland. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 303 

Street ! That the Charter of the College is vastly Extensive, and the 
yearly income sufficient to support a University being about 4.000^ 
Sterling. That the Necessary Expence for each Scholar yearly is only 
15^ Currency. Two of the officers of the Institution, Mr. Bracken 
and Mr. Henly Clergymen are at present engaged in a paper War pub- 
lished weekly in the Williamsburg Gazette's. 1 

Tuesday, March 1. Afternoon Mr. Lane a young Gentleman, for- 
merly my acquaintance at Princeton came to see me ; with one Mr. Har- 
ison. He stays all night. 

Thursday, March j. After Breakfast Mr. Lane left us, He was drest 
in black superfine Broadcloth ; Gold-laced hat ; laced Ruffles ; black Silk 
Stockings ; and to his Broach on his Bosom he wore a Majors Badge in- 
scrib'd " Virtute and Silentio " cut in a Golden Medal ! Certainly he 
was fine ! 

Sunday, March 6. Breakfasted at half after nine. Mr. Lane the 
other Day informed me that the Anabaptists in Louden County are grow- 
ing very numerous ; and seem to be increasing in afluence ; and as he 
thinks quite destroying pleasure in the Country ; for they encourage ar- 
dent Pray'r ; strong and constant faith, and an intire Banishment of 
Gaming, Dancing, and Sabbath-Day Diversions. I have also before un- 
derstood that they are numerous in many County's in this Province and 
are Generally accounted troublesome. Parson Gibbern has preached 
several sermons in opposition to them, in which he has labour'd to con- 
vince his people that what they say are only whimsical Fancies or at most 
Religion grown to Wildness and Enthusiasm ! There is also in these 
counties one Mr. Woddel, 2 a presbiterian Clergyman, of an irreproach- 
able Character, who preaches to the people under Trees in summer, and 
in private Houses in Winter. Him, however, the people in general 
dont more esteem than the Anabaptists Preachers ; but the People of 
Fashion in general countenance, and commend him. I have never had 
an opportunity of seeing Mr. Woddel, as he is this Winter up in the 
Country, but Mr. and Mrs. Carter speak well of him, Mr. and Mrs. Fant- 
leroy also, and all who I have ever heard mention his Name. 

Friday, March 18. I have all along intended, and shall now attempt 
to give a short description of Nomini-Hall, and the several Buildings, 
and improvements adjoining it ; as well for my own amusement, as also 

1 John Bracken was from 1773 to 1818 minister of Bruton Church, Williamsburg, 
was made master of the grammar school, at the college, and was president for two years 
after the death of Bishop James Madison in 1812. Samuel Henley was professor of di- 
vinity and moral philosophy in the college, was a Tory, and left Virginia in 1775. In 
England he wrote numerous pamphlets on archaeological subjects, was the translator of 
Beckford's Vathek, and from 1805 to 1815 was principal of the East India College at 
Hertford. 

2 The celebrated Dr. James Waddell, the "Blind Preacher" of Wirt's British 
Spy, was settled in Lancaster and Northumberland counties from 1762 to 1788 ; but dur- 
ing the latter part of this period it was his custom, on grounds of health, to spend a part 
•of the year in upper Virginia, where he lived constantly in later years. See Foote's 
Sketches of Virginia, I. 367-387. 



304 Documents 

to be able with certainty to inform others of a Seat as magnificent in 
itself and with as many surrounding Conveniences, as any I have ever 
seen, and perhaps equal to any in this Colony. 

Mr. Carter now possesses 60000 Acres of Land ; and about 600 
Negroes. But his Estate is much divided, and lies in almost every 
county in this Colony ; He has Lands in the Neighbourhood of Williams- 
burg, and an elegant and Spacious House in that City. He owns a great 
part of the well known Iron-Works near Baltimore in Maryland. 1 And he 
has one or more considerable Farms not far from Anapolis. 

He has some large tracts of Land far to the West, at a place call'd 
"Bull Run," and the " Great Meadows" among the mountains. He 
owns Lands near Dumfries on the Potowmack ; and large tracts in this 
and the neighbouring Counties. Out of these Lands, which are situated 
so remote from each other in various parts of these two large Provinces, 
Virginia and Maryland, Mr. Carter has chosen for the place of his habi- 
tation a high spot of Ground in Westmoreland County at the Head of the 
Navigation of the River Nomini, where he has erected a large Elegant 
House, at a vast expence, which commonly goes by the name of Nomini- 
Hall. This House is built with Brick, but the bricks have been covered 
with strong lime Mortar ; so that the building is now perfectly white ; it 
is seventy- six Feet long from East to West ; and forty-four wide from 
North to South, two Stories high ; the Pitch of the lower story seventeen 
Feet, and the upper Story twelve. It has five Stacks of Chimneys, tho' 
two of these serve only for ornaments. 

There is a beautiful Jutt, on the South side, eighteen feet long, and 
eight Feet deep from the wall which is supported by three tall pillars. 
On the South side, or front, in the upper story are four Windows each 
having twenty-four Lights of Glass. In the lower story are two Windows 
each having forty-two Lights of Glass, and two Doors each having Six- 
teen Lights. At the East end the upper story has three Windows each 
with eighteen Lights ; and below two Windows both with eighteen 
Lights and a Door with nine. 

The North side I think is most beautiful of all ; In the upper Story 
is a Row of seven Windows with eighteen Lights a piece ; and below six 
windows, with the like number of lights ; besides a large Portico in the 
middle, at the sides of which are two Windows each with eighteen Lights. 
At the West end are no Windows. The Number of Lights in all is five 
hundred, and forty-nine. There are four Rooms on a Floor, disposed of 
in the following manner. Below is a dining Room where we usually 
sit ; the second is a dining-Room for the Children ; the third is Mr. 
Carters study 2 ; and the fourth is a Bail-Room thirty Feet long. Above 

1 Probably those established at Gwinn's Falls and Jones's Falls by the Baltimore 
Company, in which members of the Tasker family (Mrs. Carter's connections) were 
interested. Bishop, History of American Manufactures, I. 586. 

2 Fithian includes in his journal a catalogue of Colonel Carter's library — 89 volumes 
folio, 76 quarto, 378 octavo, 502 duodecimo, and says that the Colonel had 458 volumes 
more at Williamsburg — 1503 in all. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 305 

stairs, one Room is for Mr. and Mrs. Carter ; the second for the young 
Ladies ; and the other two for occasional Company. As this House is 
large, and stands on a hi h piece of Land it may be seen a considerable 
distance ; I have seen it at the Distance of six Miles. 

At equal Distances from each corner of this Building stand four other 
considerable Houses, which I shall next a little describe. First, at the 
North East corner, and at 100 yards Distance stands the School House ; 

At the North-West Corner, and at the same Distance stands the 
stable ; At the South-West Corner, and at the same Distance, stands the 
Coach-House ; And lastly, at the South-East, and at an equal distance 
stands the Wash-House. These four Houses are the corners of a Square of 
which the Great-House is the Center. First the School-House is forty 
five feet long, from East to West, and twenty-seven from North to South ; 
It has five well-finished, convenient Rooms, three below stairs, and two 
above ; It is built with Brick a Story and a half high with Dormant 
Windows ; In each Room is a fire ; In the large Room below-Stairs we 
keep our School ; the other two Rooms below which are smaller are al- 
lowed to Mr. Randolph the Clerk ; The Room above the School-Room 
Ben and I live in ; and the other Room above Stairs belongs to Harry 
and Bob. Five of us live in this House with great Neatness, and con- 
venience ; each one has a Bed to himself. 

And we are call'd by the Bell to the Great- House to Breakfast &c. 
The Wash-House is built in the same form, and is of the same Size of the 
School-House. From the front yard of the Great House, to the Wash- 
House is a curious Terrace, covered finely with Green turf, and about 
five foot high with a slope of eight feet, which appears exceeding well 
to persons coming to the front of the House. This Terrace is produced 
along the Front of the House, and ends by the Kitchen ; but before the 
Front-Doors is a broad flight of steps of the same Height, and slope of 
the Terrace. 

The Stable and coach-House are of the same Length and Breadth as 
the School- and Wash-House, only they are higher pitched to be con- 
venient for holding Hay and Fodder. 

Due East of the Great House are two Rows of tall, flourishing, beau- 
tiful Poplars, beginning on a Line drawn from the School to the Wash- 
House ; these Rows are something wider than the House, and are about 
300 yards Long, at the Eastermost end of which is the great Road lead- 
ing through Westmorland to Richmond. These Rows of Poplars 1 form 
an extremely pleasant avenue, and at the Road, through them, the 
House appears most romantic, at the same time that it does truly elegant. 
The Area of the Triangle made by the Wash-House, Stable and School- 
House is perfectly levil, and designed for a bowling- Green, laid out in 
rectangular Walks which are paved with Brick, and covered over with 
burnt Oyster- Shells. In the other Triangle, made by the Wash-House, 

1 These beautiful old trees are still the admiration of all who see them ; though the 
house and buildings have been gone for many years, this stately avenue survives with 
hardly a tree missing. 



306 Documents 

Stable, and Coach-House is the Kitchen, a well-built House, as large as 
the School -House ; Bake-House ; Dairy; Store -House and several other 
small houses ; all which stand due West, and at a small distance from 
the great House, and form a little handsome Street. These Buildings 
stand about a quarter of a Mile from a Fork of the River Nomini, one 
Branch of which runs on the East of us, on- which are two Mills ; one of 
them belongs to Mr. Turburville the other to Mr. Washington, 1 both 
within a mile. another branch of the River runs on the West of us, on 
which and at a small distance above the House stands Mr. Carter's Mer- 
chant Mill, which I have in other places described ; to go to the mill 
from the House we descend I imagine above an 100 Feet; the Dam is so 
broad that two carriages may pass conveniently on it ; and the Pond 
from twelve to Eighteen Foot water, at the fork Mr. Carter has a Gran- 
ary, where he lands his Wheat for the mill, Iron from the Works etc. 

In the evening Mr. Carter sent for Ben and I to play over the Sonata 
which we have lately learn' d ; we performed it, and had not only Mr. 
Stadleys Approbation, but his praise ; he did me the honour to say that 
" I play a good Flute." He took a Flute also and play'd ; which put 
me in mind, at once, of the speech of the Shepherd in Virgil. — Non tu in 
Triviis, indocte, solebas Stridenti miserum Stipula disperdere carmen. 
For when compared to him, the best that Ben or I can do, is like Crows 
among Nightingales. We play'd till ten, and separated. I gave to Miss 
Harriot, for saying a good lesson, half a Bit. 

Tuesday, March 24. At Breakfast Mr. Carter entertained us with an 
account of what he himself saw the other Day, which is a strong Repre- 
sentation of the cruelty and distress which many among the Negroes suffer 
in Virginia ! 

Mr. Carter dined at Squire Lees 2 some few Weeks ago ; at the same 
place, that day, dined also Mr. George Turburville and his Wife. As 
Mr. Carter rode up he observed Mr. Turburville' s Coach-Man sitting on 
the Chariot-Box, the Horses off. After he had made his compliments in 
the House, He had occasion soon after to go to the Door, when he saw 
the Coachman still sitting, and on examination found that he was there 
fast chained ! The Fellow is inclined to run away, and this is the 
method which This Tyrant makes use of to keep him when abroad ; and 
So soon as he goes home he is delivered into the pityless Hands of a 
bloody Overseer ! In the Language of a Heathen I query whether cun- 
ning old Charon will not refuse to transport this imperious, haughty Vir- 
ginian Lord When he shall happen to die over the Styx to the Elysian 
Gardens ; lest his Lordship in the passage should take affront at the treat- 
ment, and attempt to chain him also to the Stygean Galley for Life ! 

Or, In the language of a Christian, I query whether he may be ad- 
mitted into the peaceful Kingdom of Heaven where meekness, Holiness, 
and Brotherly-Love, are distinguishing Characteristicks ? 

1 Presumably John Augustine Washington of Bushfield, younger brother of Gen. 
Washington. 

2 Richard Lee of Lee Hall ; see p. 301, note 1. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 307 

Monday, April 4. After Supper I had a long conversation with Mrs. 
Carter concerning Negroes in Virginia, and find that She esteems their 
value at no higher rate than I do. We both concluded, (I am pretty 
certain that the conclusion is just) that if in Mr. Carters, or in any Gen- 
tlemans Estate, all the Negroes should be sold, and the money put to In- 
terest in safe hands, and let the Lands which these Negroes now work lie 
wholly uncultivated, the bare Interest of the Price of the Negroes would 
be a much greater yearly income than what is now received from their 
working the Lands, making no allowance at all for the trouble and Risk 
of the Masters as to the Crops, and Negroes. How much greater then 
must be the value of an Estate here if these poor enslaved Africans were 
all in their native desired Country, and in their Room industrious Ten- 
ants, who being born in freedom, by a laudable care, would not only in- 
rich their Landlords, but would raise a hardy Offspring to be the Strength 
and the honour of the Colony. 

Thursday, April 7. Mr. Carter proposes to set away soon after Din- 
ner. He seems, however, to prepare himself for his Journey with all 
the sedateness of a philosopher. Besides the Commands he gave me 
yesterday, he desires me to wait on Mr. Willing Merchant in Philadel- 
phia 1 and know if he will trade here for either Flour or Bread in any 
Quantity. He has given Ben and me an Invitation to ride and spend 
this Evening with him at Colonel Tayloe's. We set out about three ; 
Mr. Carter travels in a small, neat Chair, with two waitihg Men. We 
rode across the Country which is now in full Bloom ; in every field 
we saw Negroes planting Corn, or plowing, or hoeing ; we arrived at the 
Colonels about five, Distance twelve miles. Here is an elegant Seat ! 2 
The House is about the Size of Mr. Carters, built with stone, and fin- 
ished curiously, and ornamented with various paintings, and rich Pic- 
tures. This Gentleman owns Yorick, who won the prize of 500^ last 
November, from Dr. Floods Horse Gift. In the Dining-Roora, besides 
many other fine Pieces, are twenty four of the most celebrated among 
the English Race-Horses, Drawn masterly, and set in elegant gilt Frames. 
He has near the great House, two fine two Story stone Houses, the one 
is used as a Kitchen, and the other, for a nursery, and Lodging Rooms. 
He has also a large, well formed, beautiful Garden, as fine in every Re- 
spect as any I have seen in Virginia. In it stand four large beautiful 
Marble Statues. From this House there is a good prospect of the River 
Rapahannock, which opposite here is about two miles across ; We can 
also from the chambers easily see the Town Hobbes-Hole and the Ships 

1 Thomas Willing (1731-1821), partner with Robert Morris in the great house of 
Willing and Morris ; afterwards president of the Bank of North America, and of the 
Bank of the United States. 

8 Mt. Airy, the beautiful home of the Tayloe family, still stands. It was built in 
1750, by Col. John Tayloe, and is one of the handsomest of all the old colonial man- 
sions. The interior was destroyed by fire in 1844, but was rebuilt again by Mr. William 
Tayloe, within the same walls. Situated upon a high hill in Richmond County, it com- 
mands an extensive and beautiful view of the Rappahannock River and surrounding 
country. 



308 Documents 

which lie there. I was introduced by Mr. Carter to the Colonel, to Miss 
Polly, and to Miss Kitty 1 his daughters, and to a Lady (Mrs. Thornton) 
that happened there, and to a young Gentleman, Mr. Corbin. The 
young ladies played several tunes for us, and in good taste on the 
Harpsichord ; We supp'd at nine; and had the usual Toasts. 

Friday, April 8. The Ladies before breakfast gave us several tunes 
on the Harpsichord. About ten Mr. Carter set out for Williamsburg, to 
the general Court, which sits twice a year, each Time twenty four Days 
Sundays excluded. We had some agreeable conversation this morning ; 
Horses seem to be the Colonels favourite topic. He inquired of me 
however, where I was born ; where educated ; and if I am pleased with 
Virginia. He told me he saw Dr. Witherspoon, and conversed with him 
an Evening last Fall, and is much pleased with his manner, and Qualities. 
He informed me that Dr. Morgan of Philadelphia 2 breakfasted with him 
a few Days ago ; he calls the Doctor facetious, sensible, and prudent. 
The Colonel desired me to enquire for some Gentleman of undoubted 
ability to teach in a Family. I shall apply to Mr. Sam' I Leek jun'r' and 
if he declines I will look no further. Ben and I took our Leave about 
Eleven, and returned home. 

Saturday, April p. Mrs. Carter gave Ben liberty to go with me as 
far as Anopolis, provided we set out soon, and accordingly we propose to 
set off to-morrow or Monday morning, I begin therefore to prepare for 
the Ride. The Day is rainy and cold, and I am in a vastly disagreeable 
Humour. 4 

Saturday, May 28. I found Mr. and Mrs. Carter at home sitting 
together. They received me with great welcome. Ben, Bob, Miss 
Fanny and Betsy came in to see me. The others in bed. sup'd on 
Crabs and an elegant dish of Strawberries and cream. How natural, 
how agreeable, how majestic this place seems ! 

Sunday, May 29. The family is invited to dine with Mr. Turburville. 
Mr. and Mrs. Carter, Miss Priscilla and Nancy with three Servants went 
from Church. Ben, Bob, Miss Fanny, Betsy and Harriot with two 
Servants cross'd the River. Miss Sally with Tasker and one Servant 
rode in a Chair. Dined with us Captain Dennis, of the Ship Peggy ; 

1 Mary Tayloe, we are told, married Mann Page of Spottsylvania in 1776, while 
Catharine married Landon Carter of Richmond County in 1780. 

2 Dr. John Morgan, F.R.S., one of the founders of the medical school at Philadel- 
phia and one of its first and most eminent professors. Perhaps he was now returning 
from the journey to Jamaica, which he made in 1773 in order to obtain funds for the Col- 
lege of Philadelphia. In 1775 he was appointed by Congress director-general of the 
military hospitals and physician-in-chief to the American army. 

3 Of the class of 1774, then about to graduate at Princeton. As the best scholar in the 
class, he had been appointed by the faculty to deliver at Commencement the Latin saluta- 
tory. But a few days after the date of the text, on April 19, 1774, the trustees vacated 
the choice on the ground that Leake had taken a prominent part in the burning of Gov- 
ernor Hutchinson in effigy by the students, and had insulted a trustee who opposed their 
proceedings. 

4 A vacation intervenes, spent at Fithian' s home in New Jersey. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 309 

Dr. Steptoe ; and Mr. Cunningham. Politicks were the topic — and in- 
deed the Gentlemen seemed warm. The Governor of this Province 
dissolved the Assembly last week after they had made a resolve that a 
general and solemn fast be observed thro' this whole Colony, on Account 
of the melancholy aspect of American Affairs at present, to be kept the 
first day of June, which is next Wednesday, when the alarming Act of 
Parliament which has lately come over is to take place at Boston. 1 Par- 
son Smith accordingly gave it out at the Church to Day and it is to be 
observed. I only saw Miss Sally Panton, she did not dine with us. I 
am told She has an Estate in England of s°£ Sterling pr. Annum, but 
for some unknown cause came over, probably the same as drew me from 
home. After dinner we had a Grand and agreeable Walk in and through 
the Gardens. There is great plenty of Strawberries, some Cherries, 
Gooseberries &c. Drank Coffee at four, they are now too patriotic to 
use tea. Soon after we set out for Home. The young Ladies chose to 
walk and Cross the water with us. I am much more pleas'd with the 
Face of the Country since my return than I have ever been before. It 
is indeed delightsome ! 

Tuesday, May ji. Very warm. I feel well reliev'd of the Fatigues 
of my ride. The lower Class of People here are in a tumult on the ac- 
count of Reports from Boston, many of them expect to be press' d and 
compelled to go and fight the Britains ! Evening I asked the Colonel if 
he proposed to observe the fast, and attend Sermon to-morrow ; he 
answered that " No one must go from hence to Church, or observe the 
Fast at all." By this, (for it is hard to know his opinion from any thing 
he declares) I conclude he is a courtier. 

Saturday, June 18. Towards evening 'Squire Lee call'd in, and 
brought a late London NewsPaper in which we are informed that another 
Act of Parliament has pass'd taking from the People of Boston all power 
of trying any Soldier, or Person whether for commiting any Crime : 
and obliging all such offenders to be sent home for legal Tryal. 2 Heaven 
only knows where these tumults will End ! He informed us likewise 
that last Saturday in Richmond (our neighbor County) the people drest 
and burnt with great marks of Detestation the infamous Lord North. Mrs. 
Carter, after the 'Squire left us quite astonished me in the Course of the 
evening, with her perfect acquaintance with the American Constitution. 

Friday, Junr 24. To Day in course Mr. Christians Dance happens 
here. He came before Breakfast. Miss Jenny Washington 1 came also, 

•The Boston Port Bill went into operation on June I, 1774. On May 24, 1774, the 
Virginia House of Burgesses passed a resolution expressing sympathy with the people of 
Boston, and declaring it " highly necessary that the said first day of June next be set 
apart by the members of this house, as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, devoutly 
to implore the Divine interposition for averting the heavy calamity which threatens de- 
struction to our civil rights, and the evils of civil war." In consequence of this act, 
Governor Dunmore on the following day dissolved the house. 

2 14 Geo. III. c. 39. 

3 Presumably Gen. Washington's niece, the daughter of John Augustine Washington 
and sister of Bushrod Washington. She subsequently married her cousin Col. William 
Augustine Washington. 



310 Documents 

and Miss Priscilla Hale while we were at Breakfast. Miss Washington is 
about seventeen ; She has not a handsome Face, but is neat in her Dress, 
of an agreeable Size, and well proportioned, and has an easy winning 
Behaviour ; She is not forward to begin a conversation, yet when spoken 
to she is extremely affable, without assuming any Girlish affectation, or 
pretending to be overcharg'd with Wit ; She has but lately had opper- 
tunity of Instruction in Dancing, yet She moves with propriety when she 
dances a Minuet and without any Flirts or vulgar Capers, when She 
dances a Reel or Country- Dance : She plays well on the Harpsichord, and 
Spinet ; understands the principles of Musick, and therefore performs her 
Tunes in perfect time, a Neglect of which always makes music intolerable, 
but it is a fault almost universal among young Ladies in the practice ; 
She sings likewise to her instrument, has a strong, full voice, and a well- 
judging Ear; but most of the Virginia-Girls think it labour quite suffi- 
cient to thump the Keys of a Harpsichord into the air of a tune me- 
chanically, and think it would be Slavery to submit to the Drudgery of 
acquiring Vocal Music ; Her Dress is rich and well-chosen, but not 
tawdry, nor yet too plain ; She appears to Day in a Chintz cotton Gown 
with an elegant blue Stamp, a Sky-Blue silk Quilt, spotted Apron ; Her 
Hair is a light Brown, it was crap'd up, with two Rolls at each Side, and 
on the top a small cap of beautiful Gauze and rich Lace, with an artificial 
flower interwoven. Her person and carriage at a small distance resembles 
not a little my much respected Laura. But on close examination her 
Features are something masculine, those of Laura are mild and delicate. 
Mr. Christien very politely requested me to open the Dance by stepping 
a Minuet with this amiable Girl, but I excused myself by assuring Him 
that I never was taught to Dance. Miss Hale is about fourteen ; a slim, 
puny silent Virgin ; She has black Eyes, and black Hair, a good sett of 
Eye-Brows, which are esteem'd in Virginia essential to Beauty; She 
looks innocent of every human Failing, dees not speak five Words in a 
Week, and I dare say from her Carriage that her Modesty is invincible ; 
She is drest in a white Holland Gown, cotton Diaper Quilt very fine, a 
Lawn apron, has her Hair crap'd up ; and on it a small Tuft of Ribbon 
for a Cap She is but just innitiated into the School, and only hobbles 
yet Once I saw her standing ; I rose immediately and begg'd her to ac- 
cept my Chair ; She answered most kindly, " Sir I thank you," that was 
all I could extract from this Wonder of the Sex for the two Days she 
stay'd, and I seemed to have an equal Share too in the Favours of her 
Conversation ; so that I cannot be any way particular in describing the 
mental faculties of Miss Hale, it is sufficient to say that I think she is far 
removed from most of the foibles of Women. Some time after these 
came Colonel Lee's Chariot with five young Misses. These five, with 
Miss Washington and Miss Hale and Miss Nancy Carter, and Bob are 
Mr. Christiens Compliment of Scholars in this School except Miss 
Turburville who is just now up the country with an Uncle, where She is 
to Stay some time together with Miss Corbin. Miss Betsy Lee 1 is about 

1 Probably Elizabeth, daughter of John Lee of Essex, a nephew of President Thomas 
Lee. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 3 1 1 

thirteen ; a tall slim genteel Girl ; She is very far from Miss Hale's taci- 
turnity, yet is by no means disagreeably forward ; She dances extremely 
well, and is just beginning to play the Spinet She is drest in a neat 
shell Callico Gown, has very light Hair done up with a Feather, and her 
whole carriage is easy inoffensive, and graceful. The other Miss Lee's 
are small Towards evening came in George Lee, and Mr. Grubb, an 
English Gentleman ; the Company danced after candle-light a Minuet 
round, three Country- Dances, several Reels, when we were rung to Supper 
after Supper we set til twelve drinking loyal Toasts. 

Sunday, July 10. A Sunday in Virginia dont seem to wear the Same 
Dress as our Sundays to the Northward. Generally here by five o-Clock 
on Saturday every Face (especially the Negroes) looks festive and cheer- 
ful. All the lower class of People, and the Servants, and the Slaves, 
consider it as a Day of Pleasure and amusement, and spend it in such 
Diversions as they severally choose. The Gentlemen go to Church to be 
sure, but they make that itself a matter of convenience, and account the 
Church a useful weekly resort to do Business. 

Saturday, July 16. [Invited to accompany the colonel on a trip, by 
water, down the River Machodock to the Potowack, then up the Nomini] . 
The Colonel, Ben and myself rode on Horse-back about Six to Mr. At- 
wels ; four lusty, hearty Men had gone on foot before who were Oarsmen; 
Here we were to enter a Boat never Rowed before, and proceed down 
the River Machodock to Mr. Carters Store-Houses which are now build- 
ing near the mouth of that River. But I am going to venture upon a 
Description of a Scene which I am sure I will not do Justice to — A 
Scetch of three Rivers — Their Beautiful Banks — Several Gentlemens 
Seats — Their commodious harbours — In particular that near which Mr. 
Carter is erecting Store -Houses. The whole is to be an account of our 
peregrination this 16th burning day of. July 1774. 

I have said, that we rode on Horseback to Mr. Atwels where we were 
to go on board and have our Horses sent back. This House is called six 
Miles from the mouth of Machodock. It stands on the Bank of the 
River ; The Boat that carried us is built for the purpose of carrying the 
young Ladies and others of the Family to Nominy Church. It is a light 
neat Battoe elegantly painted and is rowed with four Oars. We went on 
board ; The Sun beamed down upon us, but we had each an Umberella. 
The River is here about Gunshot over ; the Banks are pretty low, but 
hard to the very Water. I was delighted to see Corn and Tobacco grow- 
ing, or Cattle and Sheep feeding along the Brink of this River on both 
Sides, or else Groves of Pines, Savins and Oaks growing to the side of 
the Bank. We passed by an elegant small Seat of Mr. Beat; it was small, 
but it was neat. We arrived at Mr. Carters Store- Houses in 50 minutes, 
they are 5 Miles from Mr. Atwels, and one from Potowmack. These 
Houses are building for the reception of Iron, Bread, Flour &c. there 
are two Houses each 46 Feet long by 20. They stand at the Bottom of 
a Bay which is a safe and spacious harbour. Here we Breakfasted at ten, 
At twelve we pushed off from thence and rowed by parson Smiths Glebe 
vol. v. — 21 



3 1 2 Documents 

and in sight of his house in to the broad beautiful Potowmack. I think 
it is here ten Miles or twelve over has a fine high hard Bank ; no Marshes, 
but Cornfields, Trees or Grass ! Up the lovely Water we were rowed 
six Miles into the Mouth of Nominy. We went on Board a small Schooner 
from Norfolk which lay in Nominy-Bay. Mr. Carter is loading her with 
Flour and Iron. Here we were in sight of Stratford, 1 Colonel Lee's Seat. 
We were in sight too of Captain Cheltons. And of Colonel Wash- 
ington 2 Seat at Bushfield. From the Schooner we Rowed up Nominy- 
River. I have forgot to remark before that from the time of our setting 
out as we were going down Machodock, and along the Potowmack- 
Shore, and especially as we were rowing up Nominy we saw Fishermen in 
great numbers in Canoes, and almost constantly taking in Fish, Bass and 
Perch. This was beautiful ! The entrance of Nomini is very shoal, and 
stony, the Channel is very narrow, and lies close to the Eastermost Side. 
On the edges of these shoals, or in Holes between the Rocks is plenty of 
Fish. The Banks of Nominy are steep and vastly high, twenty or thirty 
Feet, and in some places almost perpendicular ; The Course of the River 
is crooked, and the prospects on each Side vastly romantic and diversified. 
We arrived at the Granary near Nominy- Hall about six. I went to my 
room to take off an Account of the expedition. 

Tuesday, August 2. Ben and I drest ourselves pretty. early with an 
intention to Breakfast with Colonel Tayloe, but the Servant who went 
with us was so slow in preparing that we breakfasted before we set out. 
We arrived at Colonel Tayloe's however by half after nine. The young 
Ladies we found in the Hall playing the Harpsichord. The morn- 
ing cool with a fine Breeze from the North for I forgot to mention that 
about Midnight last Night a violent Gust of Blackness, Rain and Thun- 
der came on and gave us present Relief from the scorching Sun ; there 
was no Dust and the riding was pleasant. The Colonel, his Lady, Miss 
Polly, Miss Kitty, Miss Sally, 3 rode in their Great Coach to the Ferry. 
Distance about 4 miles. Ben and I on Horseback. From Colonel Tay- 
loe's to this Ferry opposite to Hobbs's Hole the Land is levil and ex- 
tremely good ; Corn here looks very rank is set thick with Ears, and they 
are high and large, three commonly on a Stalk. Here I saw about an 
Acre and a half of Flax, which the people were just pulling, exceedingly 
out of Season. This is the only Flax I have seen since I have been in the 
Colony ; I am told they raise much in the upper Counties. Here too is a 
great Marsh covered with thick high Reed. The Face of this part of the 
Country looks fertile, but I apprehend it is far from being healthy. We 
came to the Bank of the Rappahannock ; it is here about 2 Miles over 
the Shipping on the other Side near the Town lying at Anchor looks 
fine ; no large Vessels can haul along the Wharves on account of shoal 
Water. There were six Ships riding in the Harbour, and a number of 

1 The famous old mansion at Stratford (see Lee's Lee of Virginia, pp. 114-120) 
was at this time occupied by Col. Philip Ludwell Lee. 

2 Col. John Augustine Washington, the future general's younger brother. 

3 Afterward the third wife of Col. William Augustine Washington. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 313 

Schooners and smaller Vessels. Indeed, says Mrs. Tayloe, Captain 
Dobby has forgot us, here we have been waiting for a full half hour, 
shall we take the Ferry Boat Colonel and cross over, and not stand any 
longer in the burning heat ? I was pleased not a little with the propo- 
sal, tho' at the same time, I laughed with myself at Mrs. Tayloe' s truly 
Womanish impatience ! At last they are coming. The long-Boat came, 
well furnished with a large Awning, and rowed with four Oars. We en- 
tered the Ship about half after twelve where we were received by Cap- 
tain Dobby, with every possible token of welcome. 

Since I have been in Virginia, my inclination, and my fixed purpose 
before I left home, both of which were very much assisted by a strict 
Attention to the instructing my little Charge, these have kept me pretty 
constantly, almost wholly, indeed out of that kind of Company where 
dissipation and Pleasure have no restraint. This entertainment of Cap- 
tain Dobby' s, elegant indeed, and exceedingly agreeable, I consider as 
one among a prodigeous throng of more powerful similar Causes, of the 
fevers and other Disorders which are common in this Colony, and gene- 
rally attributed to the Climate which is thought to be noxious and un- 
healthy. The Weather here indeed is remarkably variable But taking 
away and changing the usual and necessary Time of Rest ; Violent Exer- 
cise of the Body and Spirits ; with drinking great quantities of variety of 
Liquors, these bring on Virginia Fevers. The Beaufort is a stately Ship ; 
Captain Dobby had an Awning from the Stern over the Quarter quite to 
the Mizen-Mast, which made great Room, kept off the Sun, and yet was 
open on each Side to give the Air a free passage. At three we had on 
Board about 45 Ladies, and about 60 Gentlemen besides the Ships Crew, 
a.nd Waiters, Servants &c. We were not throng'd at all, and dined all 
at twice. I was not able to inform myself, because it seemed improper to 
interrupt the General pleasure, with making circumstantial inquiries con- 
cerning Individuals, and saying pray, Sir, what young Lady is that yonder 
in a Lute-String Gown ? She seems genteel ; where does her Father live ? 
Is she a Girl of Family and Breeding ? Has She any Suitors ? This 
when one could not be out of the Inspection of the Company, would have 
seemed impertinent so that I did not much enlarge my Acquaintance with 
the Ladies, which commonly seems pleasing and desirable to me ; But I 
took Notice of Several, and shall record my remarks. 

The Boats were to Start, to use the Language of Jockeys, immediately 
after Dinner ; A Boat was anchored down the River at a Mile Distance ; 
Captain Dobby and Captain Benson steer' d the Boats in the Race. Cap- 
tain Benson had 5 Oarsmen ; Captain Dobby had 6. It was Ebb-Tide. 
The Betts were small, and chiefly given to the Negroes who rowed. 
Captain Benson won the first race. Captain Purchace offered to betf ten 
Dollars that with the same Boat and same Hands, only having Liberty to 
put a mall Weight in the Stern, he would beat Captain Benson. He was 
taken, and came out best only half the Boats Length. About Sunset we 
left the Ship and went all to Hobbs's Hole, where a Ball was agreed on. 
This is a small Village, with only a few Stores, and Shops, it is on a 



314 Documents 

beautiful River, and has I am told commonly six, eight and ten Ships 
loading before it the Crews of which enliven the Town. Mr. Ritche 
Merchant ; he has great influence over the People, he has great Wealth ; 
which in these scurvy Times gives Sanction to Power ; nay it seems to 
give countenance to Tyranny. 

The Ball Room 

25 Ladies — 40 Gentlemen — The Room very long, well-finished, airy 
and cool, and well-seated — two Fidlers. Mr. Ritche stalk' d about the 
Room. He was Director, and appointed a sturdy two fisted Gentleman 
to open the Ball with Mrs. Tayloe. He danced midling tho'. There 
were about six or eight married Ladies. At last Miss Ritche danced a 

Minuet with She is a tall slim Girl, dances nimble and graceful. 

She was Ben Carters partner. Poor Girl She has had the third Day 
Ague for twelve months past, and has it yet She appeared in a blue 
Silk Gown ; Her Hair was done up neat, without powder, it is very 
Black and Set her to good Advantage. Soon after her danced Miss 
Dolly Edmundson — A Short pretty Stump of a Girl ; She danced well, 
sung a Song with great applause, seemed to enter into the Spirit of the 
entertainment. A young Spark seemed to be fond of her ; She seemed 
to be fond of him ; they were both fond, and the Company saw it. He 
was Mr. Ritche' s Clerk, a limber, well dress' d, pretty-handsome Chap 
he was. The insinuating Rogue waited on her home, in close Hugg too, 
the moment he left the Bail-Room. Miss Aphia Fantleroy danced next, 
the best dancer of the whole absolutely. And the finest Girl. Her 
head tho' was powdered white as Snow, and crap'd in the newest Taste. 
She js the Copy of the goddess of Modesty. Very handsome ; she 
seemed to be loved by all her Acquaintances, and admired by every 

Stranger. Miss McCall Miss Ford Miss Brokenberry Ball 

Two of the younger Miss Ritche" 's Miss Wade. — They danced 

till half after two, Captain Ritche invited Ben and I, Colonel Tayloe 
and his Family with him. We got to Bed by three after a Day spent in 
constant Violent exercise, and drinking an unusual Quantity of Liquor ; 
for my part with Fatigue, Heat, Liquor, Noise, Want of sleep, And the 
exertion of my Animal spirits, I was almost brought to believe several 
times that I felt a Fever fixing upon me, attended with every Symptom 
of the Fall Disorders. 

Wednesday, August 3. We were call'd up to Breakfast at half after 
eight. We all look'd dull, pale, and haggard ! From our Beds to Break- 
fast. Here we must drink Hot Coffee on our parching Stomachs ! But 
the Company was enlivening — Three of the Miss Tayloe's — Three Miss 
Ritche's — And Miss Fantleroy. This loveliest of all the Ring is yet far 
below — Laura If they were set together for the choice of an utter 
Stranger ; he would not reflect, but in a moment spring to the Girl that 
I mean to regard. After Breakfast the young Ladies favoured us with 
several Tunes on the Harpsichord. They all play and most of them in 
good Taste, at eleven we went down to the River ; the Ships Long 
Boat was waiting. Captain Purchace of the Beaufort, helped us on Board. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 3 1 5 

I gave the Boatswain a Pisterene for his trouble. Half a Bit for the Past- 
ure of my Horse. We rode to Colonel Tayloe's. The Ladies all retired 
for a nap before Dinner, we sat in the Hall, and conversed with the 
Colonel a sensible, agreeable sociable person. Miss Garrot is Governess 
of the young Ladies ; She too is chatty, satirical, neat, civil, had many 
merry remarks at Dinner, we staid til about six took our Leave, and rode 
Home. Found all well ; gave an account of ourselves, of our entertain- 
ment, and of our Company to Mr. and Mrs. Carter at Coffee, and retired 
soon to Bed. 

Saturday, August 13. Evening came in Colonel Henry Lee. He is 
chosen * to be one of the seven who represent this Colony in the General 
Congress to be held next Month in Philadelphia. He sets out next Sun- 
day Sennight. 

Thursday, August 25. Still stormy. The Gentlemen who are sail- 
ing up the Bay to the Congress have a disagreeable time. This is a true 
August Northeaster, as we call it in Cohansie. Ben is in a wonderful 
Fluster lest he shall have no company to-morrow at the Dance. But 
blow high, blow low, he need not be afraid ; Virginians are of genuine 
Blood. They will dance or die ! I wrote some at my Letter for Mr. 
Peck? The people here pronounce shower "Sho-er." And what in 
New Jersey we call a Vendue here they [call] a " Sale." All Taverns 
they call "Ordinary's." When a Horse is frolicsome and brisk, they 
say at once he is " gayly." She is mischievous, they call him " vicious." 
At five, with Ben, I rode out for exercise. After a while we arrived at 
George Lee's. He gave us some excellent Peaches. He returned with us 
to Mr. Turberville's. We met here with Miss Betsy Lee, 3 Mr. Grubb, 
Lancelot Lee and here we spent the evening. Fish -Feasts, and Fillies, 
Loud disputes concerning the Excellence of each others Colts — Concern- 
ing their Fathers, Mothers (for so they call the Dams) Brothers, Sisters, 
Uncles, Aunts, Nephews, Nieces, and Cousins to the fourth Degree ! 
All the Evening Toddy constantly circulating. Supper came in, and at 
Supper I had a full, broad, satisfying view of Miss Sally Panton. I 
wanted to hear her converse, but poor Girl anything She attempted to 
say was drowned in the more polite and useful Jargon about Dogs and 
Horses ! For my Part, as I was unwilling to be singular, if I attempted 
to push in a word, I was seldom heard, and never regarded, and yet they 
were constantly refering their Cases to me, as to a supposed honest 
fellow, I suppose because I wear a black Coat, and am generally silent ; 
at Home I am thought to be noisy enough ; here I am thought to be 
silent and circumspect as a Spy. How different the Manners of the 
People ! I try to be as cheerful as I can, and yet I am blamed for being 
stupid as a Nun. 

Monday, September 12. We threatned having a Fire this morning. 
I wrote at my Sermon. From the Ship lying at Leeds, arrived this after- 

1 By the first convention of Virginia, early in August. R. H. Lee is intended. 

2 John Peck, Princeton 1774, who on Fithian's recommendation succeeded him as 
tutor at Nominy Hall. 

3 Presumably the sister of George and Lancelot, not the one mentioned on p. 310. 



3 1 6 Documents 

noon our new Coach. It is a plain carriage, upper part black, lower 
Sage or Pea-Green. The Harness is neat strong, and suitable for the 
Country. Price 120^ Sterling. In the same Ship Mrs. Carter imports 
about 30^ value in plate in a pair of fashionable Goblets; Pair of 
beautiful Sauce-Cups ; and a Pair of elegant Decanter-Holders. Ben 
introduced into our Room a plain useful Book-Case, in which we class 
and place our Books in order, after School, I took a Book, and walked 
through the Pasture strolling among Horses, Cows, and Sheep, grazing 
on the Hills and by the River. 

Friday, September 16. Mrs. Carter, this morning, with Prissy, 
Nancy, and Bob went in the New-Coach to the Dance at Stratford, 1 the 
morning is mild, fair and cool. The Colonel informed me that now his 
Mill-House Bake Houses, Store Houses &c. with a clear unobstructed 
navigation is compleated, and that, he will rent them all to a Person 
properly qualified, or gladly employ a person who is capable, trusty and 
industrious enough to be the sole Director of so great and valuable Prop- 
erty. Dined with us captain Walker. He threw out several exceeding 
unpopular Sentiments with regard to the present amazing Disturbances 
through the Colonies. One in special I think proper to record because 
it- fixes his Character, and declares him, in Spite of all pretence, an 
enemy to America. He asserted that no Officers (at Boston or else- 
where) are obliged, either by Law, or Right, to question or refuse any 
kind of orders which they receive from their Sovereign, or commanding 
Officer. But I count every man, who possesses and publishes such sen- 
timents in this Crisis of the Fate of a vast Empire, as great an enemy to 
America at least, as Milton's Arch- Devil -was to Mankind ! 

Monday, September ig. The morning fine and cool, and produces 
in our School at last a fine Fire ! Fire looks and feels most welcome ; 
and I observe it makes our children remarkably garrulous and noisy. I 
took cold by Saturdays unusual exercise, and to Day have a Pain through 
my head, sore throat, and the other common troubles in a Cold. This 
Day begins the examination of the Junior class at Nassau-Hall. Every 
time I reflect on that Place of retirement and Study, where I spent two 
years which I call the most pleasant as well as the most important Period 
in my past life — Always when I think upon the Studies, the Discipline, 
the Companions, the Neighbourhood, the exercises, and Diversiotis, it 
gives me a secret and real Pleasure, even the Foibles which often prevail 
there are pleasant on recollection ; such as giving each other names and 
characters ; Meeting and Shoving in the dark entries : knocking at Doors 
and going off without entering ; Strowing the entries in the night with 
greasy Feathers ; freezing the Bell ; Ringing it at late Hours of the 
Night ; — I may add that it does not seem disagreeable to think over the 
Mischiefs often practised by wanton Boys — Such are writing witty pointed 
anonymous Papers, in Songs, Confessions, Wills, Soliliques, Proclama- 
tions, Advertisements &c— Picking from the neighbourhood now and then 
a plump fat Hen or Turkey for the private entertainment of the Club 

1 The house of Col. Philip Ludwell Lee. See above, p. 297, note I ; p. 312, note I. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 3 1 7 

" instituted for inventing and practising several new kinds of mischief in 
a secret polite Manner" — Parading bad Women — Burning Curse-John — 
Darting Sun-Beams upon the Town-People Reconoitering Houses in the 
Town, and ogling Women with the Telescope — Making Squibs, and 
other frightful compositions with Gun-Powder, and lighting them in the 
Rooms of timorous Boys and new comers — The various methods used in 
naturalizing Strangers, of incivility in the Dining-Room to make them 
bold ; writing them sharp and threatning Letters to make them smart ; 
leading them at first with long Lessons to make them industrious — And 
trying them by Jeers and Repartee in order to make them choose their 
Companions &c &c. 

Sunday, September 25. The morning clear cool and very dry. I 
rode to Ucomico-Church. I was surprised when the Psalm begun, to 
hear a large Collection of voices singing at the same time, from a Gal- 
lery, entirely rontrary to what I have seen before in the Colony, for it is 
seldom in the fullest Congregation's, that more sing than the Clerk, and 
about two others ! I am told that a singing Master of good abilities has 
been among this society lately and put them on the respectable Method 
which they, at present pursue. I dined at Mr. Fishers, among others, I 
saw there, Dr. Steptoe, and Mr. Hamilton who have lately been to Phila- 
delphia. They give various reports concerning political affairs, and as to 
the Congress nothing certain, so that I say nothing on that Score. Their 
Remarks on the City and Inhabitants : The Country &c are curious. 
They allow the City to be fine, neat, and large ; they complain a little of 
the small Rooms, Uniformity of the Buildings, and several other like 
faults. They call the Inhabitants grave and reserved ; and the Women 
remarkably homely, hard favour'd and sour ! One Colonel Harrison ' 
from a lower County in this Colony, offer' d to give a Guinea for every 
handsome Face that could be found in the City, if any one would put a 
Copper on every Face that did not come up to that Character ! This is 
an impeachment of the Ladies which I have never heard before. I do 
not give my opinion either for or against it. The face of the Country, 
and the method of farming that way delights them : but at this I dont 
wonder. 

Friday, September 30. Warm, but clear and dry. Dined with us 
Mr. Blain ; he gave us a large account of affairs at the Congress, of the 
City, Country, Manners, Persons, Trade &c. But he swears the Women 
are coarse and hardy. Evening I informed the Colonel that it is 
hardly probable I shall continue in his family til his return from the 
general Court. And at the same time, desired him to give me a discharge, 
so that I expect to have all things adjusted before he leaves Home. We 
have now entered on the Winter plan, have Coffee just at evening and 
Supper between eight and nine o-Clock. It is wondeiful to consider the 
Consumption of provisions in this family. I have before spoken of 
Meat, and the steady Rate of flour weekly, for the great House is 100 Lb 
of which 50 is the finest, and 50 the Seconds. But all the Negroes, and 
most of the Labourers eat Corn. 

1 Doubtless Col. Benjamin Harrison, the signer. 



3 1 8 Documents 

Monday, October j. After Breakfast the Colonel settled and paid me 
for my Years Service 40^ Sterling. This is better than the scurvy an- 
nuity commonly allowed to the Presbyterian Clergy. He is very Busy 
in adjusting his affairs, he set out however, by twelve for Williamsburg, 
after taking final leave of me. Ben accompanies him to Richmond 
Court. Afternoon Miss Corbin and Miss Turberville came in to stay 
a while with Mrs. Carter. 

Bob went yesterday to Mr. Lanes there was Parson Gibbern ill of his 
last weeks Bout ■ he was up three nights successively drinking and play- 
ing at Cards, so that the liquor and want of sleep put him quite out of 
his Sences. A rare tale this to relate of a Man of God ! To use the 
language of the vulgar, "Old Satan will sadly belabour such overgrown 
Sinners"! 

Wednesday, October 12. I was told often before I left Home that 
coming into Virginia would bring me into the midst of many dangerous 
Temptations ; Gay Company, frequent entertainments, little practical 
devotion, no remote pretention to Heart religion, daily examples in Men 
of the highest quality of Luxury, intemperance, and impiety ; these were 
urged, by my kind acquaintances, as very strong dissuasions against my 
leaving home ; the admonitions I accepted with great Thankfulness, tho' 
I could not allow them to turn me off from my purpose and I resolved 
with as much sincerity and Firmness as I could to carry them with me in 
every part of my behaviour. The close of the time of my Stay here is I 
expect now near at hand : And if I may judge myself of the carrying my 
resolutions into practice, I should pronounce that I have not been want 
ing in my duty in this respect. Some few who frequently ask me to go 
from home, say I am dull, unsociable, and splenetic : But the Gentlemen 
generally here have a good and reasonable manner of judging in this case 
they are well pleased with strict and rigid virtue, in those who have the 
management of their children, if it does not grow to factious enthusi- 
asm ; so that Levity, tho' perhaps they would wink at it lessens, and 
in a while would take away the Reputation and business of a Family 
Tutor. Of this I was fully convinced in a short time after my coming 
into the Colony, and saw too the very great advantage of the Precaution 
which I received of my friends, for they assisted me in setting out in a 
safe and prudent Plan, which has, I hope directed me to propriety of 
conduct with regard to my private character, and likewise to my little 
lovely Charge. 1 

Tuesday, December 6. The Committee, Messrs. Greenman, Ches- 
nut, Green, Achan and Hollingshead, met at Pittsgrove according to ap- 
pointment ; It was opened with a Sermon, by Mr. Hollingshead. Soon 
after which they proceeded to examine me in natural and Moral Philoso- 
phy, Geography, and divinity. All which they finished about nine in 
the evening and then gave me a Licence to preach the Gospel. I feel 

1 The writer left Nominy Hall on October 20, and reached his home in southern 
New Jersey on the 25th. His final trials before the Presbytery at Neshaminy began on 
November 3, but were adjourned to December 6, 1774. 



Journal of Philip Fithian 319 

myself not able ; I feel myself unqualified ; I feel myself unworthy, and 
«very way vastly unequal to this great undertaking. Give me Strength, 
O Shepherd of Israel ; furnish me with every necessary qualification ; 
with wisdom, Fidelity, Zeal, Prudence and Perseverance. May I have in 
my own heart much of the meekness and Spirit of the Gospel, and may I 
have a sense of my duty in these times of distraction and Misery. Fur- 
nish me with an uniform and unbiass' d love for my country and give me 
■courage to engage in every method that has a tendency to save her 
from Ruin, even if my life should be in Danger in the Competition. 1 

1 Within two years Philip Fithian, as has been mentioned in the introduction, died 
in the service of his country.